A Thanksgiving Remembrance

 

Harvard Professor and historian Arthur Schlesinger once called prejudice against the Catholic Church . . . the deepest bias in the history of the American people.  American historians are reluctant to admit to such bias, so it is understandable that no history books carry the story of Ann Glover.  Ann was an American Martyr, and her story puts an entirely different slant on the holiday that we celebrate in November.

The story begins with the Puritans, who were probably the most intolerant Christians to ever crack a bible.  They overthrew the monarchy in England, beheaded the King, and attacked Ireland under the ruthless Cromwell.  Any Irishman knows the result of Cromwell’s incursions into Ireland.  His fanatically anti-Catholic Puritan religion denounced any who enjoyed the simple pleasures of life such as singing, dancing, games of chance and drinking.  When they got to Ireland, they were horrified by the life style of the Irish which basically included all of the above, and hundreds of thousands of Catholic men, women, and children were slaughtered in the name of Christ.

After the monarchy was restored, the Puritan’s descendants were chased to America where, modern revisionist historians would have us believe that they befriended the Indians and hosted the first Thanksgiving.  In the years that followed, they have become the icons of civilized Christian behavior.  But hold on!  Let’s go back to the history books!  Aren’t these the same benevolent Christians who turned on those in their own community who were different, and hanged them or burned them at the stake as witches?  It sure is, and one of them was Anne Glover, an Irish laundress who was caught up in a witch mania that was part of the rigid Puritanism of the time.  The superstitious Puritans attached supernatural causes to anything they couldn’t explain – even medical conditions.

Glover had been an Irish slave, sold to the Barbados by Oliver Cromwell after his wars in Ireland in the 1650s. Persecuted for his religious beliefs, her husband died there.  By 1680 she and her daughter had either escaped or were sold, but ended up in Boston, employed as housekeepers by a Puritan, John Goodwin.  In the summer of 1688, four of the five Goodwin children fell ill.  Their doctor, who was unable to diagnose a legitimate cause, covered his own inability by concluding that nothing but a hellish Witchcraft could be the origin of these maladies.  Martha, the 13-year-old Goodwin daughter, confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis by claiming she became ill right after an argument with ‘Goody’ Glover.

Glover was accused of practicing witchcraft by the infamous Reverend Cotton Mather, pastor of the old North Church, – a name familiar to most school children who never heard of Anne Glover.  She was arrested and tried as a witch.  Mather alleged that Anne was a witch because, among other things, she had the artifacts of a witch.  The truth is that she was Irish and Catholic and that put her at a decided disadvantage among the bigoted Puritans who denounced the veneration of images.  Of necessity, Ann Glover had practiced her religion in secret, but when accused, her home was searched and pictures of Jesus Christ were found.  These artifacts were enough to condemn her in the eyes of Cotton Mather, but the final argument against her was given when a witness said that she overheard Ann speaking in a strange language.  Her accuser assumed that Ann was conversing with the devil.  The truth is that the poor woman was simply praying in private in the way she knew best – in her native Irish tongue.  During the trial Cotton Mather called her a scandalous old Irishwoman, very poor, a Roman Catholick (sic) and obstinate in idolatry.   In the courtroom there was confusion over Glover’s testimony, since she refused to speak English.  According to Mather, the court could have no answers from her, but in the Irish, which was her native language.  The court convicted Glover of witchcraft and sentenced her to be hanged.

Robert Calef, a Boston merchant who knew her, said Goody Glover was a despised, crazy, poor old woman, an Irish Catholick (sic) who was tried for afflicting the Goodwin children. Her behavior at her trial was like that of one distracted. They did her cruel. The proof against her was wholly deficient. The jury brought her guilty. She was hung. She died a Catholick (sic).   The cause of her ‘distraction’ at trial was no doubt due to the torturous treatment she had undergone during her pre-trial confinement.  Author James B. Cullen wrote, she was drawn in a cart, a hated and dreaded figure, chief in importance, stared at and mocked at, through the principal streets from her prison to the gallows . . . The people crowded to see the end, as always; and when it was over they quietly dispersed, leaving the worn-out body hanging as a terror to evil-doers.

A decade after Glover’s death, Mather was still preaching against idolatrous Roman Catholicks, trying to preserve a dying society in a world that was quickly changing.  Many other Irish immigrants came to America as slaves, indentured or otherwise; some were not as firm in their Faith as Goody Glover, and drifted into Protestantism.

On November 16, 1988, the Boston City Council finally recognized the injustice done to Ann Glover 300 years earlier and proclaimed that day “Goody Glover Day”, condemning the injustice done to her.  They even erected a memorial to her.  Maybe this Thanksgiving, when we gather around a table heaped with the bounty of the harvest, instead of remembering the Puritans, we can remember Anne Glover, who when offered freedom by Cotton Mather if she rejected Catholicism, refused and became Massachusetts first Catholic martyr.  Isn’t it curious that eight of America’s early 17th century martyrs were canonized, but not Anne?  But then the eight canonized were all killed by Indians and Anne Glover, who died for her faith in Boston, was murdered by Englishmen.  Is that why her memory is suppressed by history and by her church?

The Other 9-11

In 1649, a bitter struggle between England’s King Charles and his Puritan Parliament erupted in a civil war ending with victory for the Puritan anti-monarchists led by Oliver Cromwell.  King Charles was beheaded and the newly appointed Council of Officers turned their well-trained, war toughened, fanatically anti-Catholic, army of zealots toward Ireland under the ruthless Cromwell.  This was the foundation of the British Army.  Prior to this time, freelance fighters and soldiers of fortune were recruited for specific campaigns.  British Major-General Frank Kitson wrote in his book, Low Intensity Operations, When the regular army was first raised in the 17th century, `suppression of the Irish’ was coupled with the defense of the Protestant Religion as one of the two main reasons for its existence.

On August 14th, 1649, Cromwell landed at Dublin with 10,000 foot-soldiers, 4,000 cavalry, and sufficient artillery to crush all Irish and those loyalists who had supported the former King.   On September 11, Cromwell began his campaign at Drogheda. For two days, 3,000 men defended the town against the onslaught until a breech in the walls allowed Cromwell’s army to storm in.  What followed was to become the trademark of his conquests across Ireland.  Under his personal orders, the army indiscriminately slaughtered the defenseless civilian population; for five days men, women, and children were hunted and butchered.  On October 2nd, he called for a national day of thanksgiving to celebrate the dreadful slaughter of which he later wrote, The enemy were about 3,000 strong in the town. I believe we have put to the sword the whole number….. In this very place (Saint Peter’s Church) a thousand of them were put to the sword, fleeing thither for safety.

On October 11th, after reducing the northern strongholds in quick succession, Cromwell swept south to Wexford where, as Lingard states in his History of England, Wexford was abandoned to the mercy of the assailants. The tragedy recently enacted at Drogheda was renewed. No distinction was made between the defenseless inhabitants and the armed soldiers, nor could the shrieks and prayers of the 300 females who had gathered round the great cross in the market-place, preserve them from the swords.  Cromwell reduced the garrisons of Arklow, Inniscorthy and Ross on his way to Wexford. After Wexford, he attacked Waterford, laid waste to the cities of County Cork and rested at Youghal awaiting fresh supplies from England.

In January, 1650, Cromwell took the field again and reduced Fethard, Cashel, and Carrick.  At Clonmel, he was met by Hugh O’Neill, nephew of Owen Roe, and a small garrison of 1,500 men.  They put up the last major resistance to the Puritan army.  By May, Cromwell left for England after the bloodiest campaign ever seen by the Irish.  He left his son Henry, and General Ireton in charge.  For the next two years, scattered pockets of resistance were systematically wiped out.

In 1652, after three years of slaughter, the last of the armed Irish Clansmen accepted Cromwell’s terms of surrender.  In August, the Cromwellian Act of Settlement was passed stating that all property holders and land-owners who could not prove that they had supported Cromwell were to forfeit all properties and land and remove themselves west to the poorest and most barren part of Ireland or face execution.  To Hell or To Connaught – a phrase that conjures up bitter feelings to this day – was the choice that the English gave.  This amounted to the seizure of a fortune in personal property and over 11 million acres of the best land in Ireland.  English speculators, who had advanced monies to raise the army for service in Ireland, were rewarded with confiscated land.  Unable to pay its thousands of soldiers, the English government paid its debts in Irish land; thus was Ireland made to pay for her own conquest.

The Irish were given six months to move to Connaught.  Some took to the hills and lived as outlaws, raiding the English settlements.  More than 34,000 Irish went abroad to chance their fortunes and form the Irish Brigades of foreign armies.  The ordinary Irish – that is, those who owned no property or land – were left to form a force of farm workers and laborers for their new English masters with the stipulation that they were not permitted to live in towns.  It is at this time in Irish history that the descendants of the earlier Norman conquerors became as Irish as the Irish (never more Irish) since they were now dispossessed just as their ancestors had dispossessed the native Irish.  They were now in the same social, economic, and political position as the native Irish.  And the native Irish?  They moved a step lower on the socio-economic ladder, and were molded into a caste of itinerant peasant laborers, forced to live in the woods and fields away from the towns in their own land.

Another sad result of Cromwell’s slaughter was the swarms of widows and orphaned  children –  starving, unemployable survivors of both sexes – who wandered everywhere. Some of their descendants wander Ireland still, but in 1652, the problem had to be dealt with. The English solved the problem by rounding them up and selling them to commercial agents to dispose of.  A market was soon found for these poor souls and they were shipped to Bermuda, Barbados, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Virginia and other English colonies where they were sold as slaves.  As far back as 1633, in the narrative of the voyage of  Jesuit Father Andrew White and associates in the ships Dove and Ark from England to Maryland in Lord Baltimore’s expedition, we are told that on the way over they put in at Monserrat where they found a colony of Irishmen who had been banished from Virginia on account of professing the Catholic Faith (see Old Catholic Maryland, p. 14).  London merchants found this traffic in flesh to be such a lucrative business that they were soon kidnaping other Irish men, women, and children to expand their trade.  Records show, during the years 1651 to 1654, 6,400 young men and women were sent to Barbados and  the English colonies in America;  2,000 more boys and girls were shipped the following year, and it has been estimated that in the year 1660 there were 10,000 Irish who had been distributed thus among the different English colonies in America (see American Catholic Quarterly Review, IX, 37).  Of the total number thus shipped out of Ireland across the main, the estimates vary between 60,000 and 100,000 [Lingard, History of England“, X (Dolman ed., 1849), 366].

Those who ended up in theses colonies endured a hell on earth.  Elderly men and women were sold first.  Then the children were dragged kicking and screaming to the auction platform.  They were stripped and examined.  Rich planters and their wives required young boys as pages and young girls as servants, but homosexuals and pedophiles frequented the auctions buying children whose fate would be years of debauchery until they became too old for such purposes and they were sold to the brothels in Bridgetown for the pleasure of visiting sailors.  Worst of all were the children who were made part of a cruel plan to develop a ‘master slave’.  Irish children were considered trainable, but too susceptible to sunburn to make good workers in the hot sun; male Mandingo slaves from Africa were considered strongest, but less intelligent.  To breed a perfect slave, Irish girls as young as 12-years old, who had never seen a black man before and some who couldn’t even understand English, were sent to breeding sheds where they were impregnated by Mandingo men until they too, by their early twenties, were considered ‘worn out’ and sold to the brothels.  When a volcano destroyed a portion of Montserrat in 1995, files saved from the library on the island documented lineage records of those matings, kept in the same way as pedigrees are kept for dogs and thoroughbred horses.  My God, those poor children!

Of all the English plantations of Ireland, Cromwell’s was the worst.  But, the greatest of all plantations was the plantation of an unforgiving hatred in the hearts of the Irish, for the Irish never permitted themselves to forget it.  To this day, the curse of Cromwell remains one of the harshest invectives an Irishman can utter.  As we proud Irish-Americans prayerfully remember the tragedy of the twin towers on 9-11-2001, say a prayer for the victims of the tragedy that befell Ireland on 9-11-1649.